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Volkswagen crowdsources its way to a Hover Car


May 7, 2012

The Hover Car is capable of traveling above ground

The Hover Car is capable of traveling above ground

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The world of personal mobility transporters doesn't bring a whole lot of glamor. The Segway was never exactly an enviable ride, and newer concepts like the GM EN-V aren't any better. But a Volkswagen that hovers a few feet over the ground? That channels a mix of Back to the Future and The Jetsons that adds some excitement to the personal mobility segment.

The Hover Car is one of three top concepts that Volkswagen procured through the crowd-sourced "People's Car Project" (PCP). Since debuting the project in China nearly a year ago, Volkswagen has inspired 33 million website visitors and 119,000 unique ideas for possible products and technologies.

"The ‘People's Car Project' in China marks the beginning of a new era in automobile design", Luca de Meo, Director of Marketing, Volkswagen Group said. "We are no longer just building cars for, but also with customers and at the same time initiating a national dialog which gives us a deep insight into the design preferences, needs and requirements of Chinese customers."

From the initial 119,000 ideas, Volkswagen picked three of its favorites. It developed concept cars around the ideas and is displaying them at the Beijing Motor Show.

The Hover Car is the concept that catches our attention the most, if only for the fact that it brings back childhood memories of the hoverboard that Marty McFly used as an escape vessel in Back to the Future II. Volkswagen defines the car as an all-electric two-seat city car that hovers just above the ground and travels along electromagnetic roadways.

"The creative ideas from the ‘People's Car Project' give us a valuable insight into the wishes of Chinese drivers," Simon Loasby, Head of Design at Volkswagen Group China, said. "The trend is towards safe cars that can easily navigate overcrowded roads and have a personal, emotional and exciting design."

The other two ideas don't quite inspire the "futuristic nostalgia" of the Hover Car. The Music Car uses a series of exterior OLED lights to create light shows in tune to the driver's music - kind of the opposite of the "safe cars" that Loasby mentions. The Smart Key is a twist on current generation smartphone integration. Instead of a phone, the concept uses a touchscreen-equipped vehicle key to provide information about the car, such as fuel level and security.

Thanks to the strong response, Volkswagen is extending the People's Car Project. Originally scheduled for a one-year run, Volkswagen says that it will now sponsor the program indefinitely. It also plans to increase the scope of the project. In the past, it has also said that it might extend the program beyond China into other markets.

As far as actual production models, PCP may give Volkswagen some inspiration and ideas, but the automaker doesn't plan to leave all details to the public. It will only proceed with projects that are in line with corporate objectives, and it will obviously have the ultimate say as to the final details.

"In a long-term context, the findings of the ‘People‘s Car Project’ will influence Volkswagen’s product strategy," de Meo said. "The design of our models will, however, continue to reflect the tradition of the Volkswagen brand. If at some time in the future we are to produce a vehicle from the ‘People's Car Project', it will be a combination of customers' opinions and brand tradition."

The video below is in Chinese, but it does provide an insight into what the drum-like Hover Car concept could look and perform like.

Source: Volkswagen AG via World Car Fans

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

Honestly??!! We are posting the fantasy now? Please don't assume if we got meglav train, we got meglav pod already. We got fission reactor, but still some time until viable fusion.


This goes to show that people don't have any idea what they really want.


Except for the lack of antigravity technology this seems like a very practical idea. Just build them with a partition down the middle so the strange woman you need to ride with can't smack you when someone cuts you off.

Snake Oil Baron

So many problems! Strong winds? Luggage space? etc.

Jerome Thomas


And when you get there, none of your credit cards will work ever again!


@Snake Oil Baron

Don't assume something if you don't understand what it's talking about in the video. At 1:43 it shows a piechart which shows the geological composition of Chengdu.

this 钒 is Vanadium in chinese this 钛 is Titanium this 磁鐵礦 is Magnitite under the piechart is 100亿吨 this means 10 billion ton; its referring to the amount of magnetite under Chengdu. The vehicle is using the magnetite in the ground to hover.


Hovering (maglev) is cool I guess, but this will mean infrastructure in defined pathways. A magnetic track could probably handle the stopping/starting/merging. But how do you get the " hover car" to the track? Or off? This seems like a fancy light rail with pods. Wheels, I've heard, don't take much energy to support a transport device, and they work in lots of places. And of course there is the question regarding the effects of EMFs on the passengers.

Bruce H. Anderson

Certainly a cute little bugger, doubtful it could ever be realized as a working vehicle - for maglev to work (not meglav) requires huge amounts of power - no way that car has batteries strong enough to get it to maneuver or stop (if that's even possible - no friction means it would take more power to halt).

CGI, anyone?

Bob Fately

"using the magnetite in the ground to hover. "

ha ha! my only wish is to live long enough to see that work!



why is 'the wheel' such a problem that has to be constantly 'solved'?

a wheel takes zero energy to 'hover'

how much does this thing take?




Don't assume that because someone states something that they are being serious. I did indeed see the visual aid of the white arrow power coming from the rainbow layers beneath the earth to help lift the car and deduced that the designers were hoping for some geomagnetic mechanism to make this possible. I just didn't see it as sensible, hence the need for antigravity.

There is a reason that, amongst the computer graphics, there is no real footage of a tiny device being floated a millimeter or two above the magnetic field of Chengdu as a proof of concept.

Snake Oil Baron

If it -can- use magnetite to hover (and I admit I am a little dubious - long range magnetic force isn't strong) then this would be the coolest thing ever. In fact, a levitating bus could be a serious tourist draw. Guess it's time I start learning to speak Cantonese.

Charles Bosse

Looking even further ahead then VW and from the perspective and idea of forming an advanced single-standard global infrastructure and transportation system, see the Aqua=Terra T.W.I.N.S. (Trans-Web Infrastructure Network System) projects (www.aquaterraplanetaryholdingsllc.com).

Recognizing that all of us like and will not give up our personal vehicles for local travel, we do have to consider more efficient, safer, and faster ways to travel to distances greater than 200 miles which is the usual comfort zone in a car.

So, VW, got a plan for a national and international system? If not, see the Aqua=Terra T.W.I.N.S. projects that may add to your bottom-line via this Maglev / Hover vehicle innovation. This Hover type vehicle may be one way to get from a Terra Station / T-Portal to one's home, naturally, once connecting guide-ways are built to accommodate the hover vehicles. If so established, then a person would be able to board at home onto a hover transport vehicle and go directly to a T-Station and once arriving, walking into a T.W.I.N.S. transport capsule to a destination hundreds or thousands of miles away and back the same day, all the way home.

What do you think VW?

Aqua=Terra Planetary Holdings, LLC

Why do all these personal transport devices never have any space for cargo at all? Not even space for a briefcase!

Also, why bother with a key at all? Gimme an NFC smartphone and app so I can just walk up to my car and get in. It should even work with ride-share programs like Zipcar so no matter what vehicle I'm using, the process is the same, touch my phone and go.


There was some work on monopolar magnets, the 'car' could then levitate if it was over an aluminium trackway. Just dont ask where the free energy is coming from.


Pure fictional fantacy.

Ziad Dibsi

I would like to see what happens trying to maglev your way down a steep hill and still having some way to stop this thing. Or maybe the driver and passenger can put their feet out the doors to act as a brake!! It might be easier to provide holes in the floor.

Roy Vieth

THIS IS A FREAKING MIRACLE! No more road damage. No more pot holes. No more roads! You can hover over grass! No more hot highways contributing to global warming. No more tar, no more nightmare traffic jams because a piece of the road is being repaired. Lets make all cars do this!

Future Hope

@Charles Bosse: You may perhaps want to learn Mandarin rather than Cantonese.

Nigel Allen

This is exactly the future of urban transportation. Magnetic levitation capsules, which in addition to traveling in magnetized tracks can climb the extern wall till the door / window of your apartment. Never more elevators, garages, nor wheels with rubber tires. Congratulations to Simon Loasby and Das "China" Auto.


Styling and cargo aside, this would be a good idea, if the technology was to hover off the ground, not a metal track. It's like Maglev but with more freedom to move where you want unless it's off road, soo not really where you want:/ Keep up the good work, the idea is there.


Taking a step backwards in time.... where is the Volkswagon economy electric? Something in the $7-8000 range. Simple design, simple solar PV battery charger canopy.


As an idea it seems to be great but I see that everybody have many questions and so have I... What if this thing falls down on a highway? I think it could be even worse than crashing on a motorcycle...


To all those congenital optimists:

Having an idea is NEVER a problem. There are countles wild ideas out there. Having an idea, that is feasible IS a problem.

Until there is some kind of levitation technology, that is cheaper than good ol' wheel or at least its application in transportation makes it cheaper compared to wheeled transportation this is all just a useless dream.

BTW, if the ground there in China really had some magnetic properties that could be used for levitation, I'm sure it could be utilised way more efficiently for energy generation, so that the whole city transportation could go electric. THAT would really be awesome. Levitating designer's dream is just childish.

Short Fuse

it is clear from the video that this thing does not use magnetic levitation. If you see in the video where the device drives past the magazine stand, it encounters a discarded can. This can is obviously being blown by some kind of air being forcibly emitted from the underside of this vehicle.


Hey VW what happened to the 1L car (1 liter per 100k)? Why not start producing that then move to this contraption.

Mark A

Personally I'm sick of everyone being a buzz kill. If people like all of you were around when the Wright brothers were inventing a plane, then god knows how far behind our world would be.

You need to make mistakes, learn and try new things to further advance. Of course it costs money, a lot of time and patience. But thankfully others out there aren't like you all thinking 'it's useless'.

There's many factors why just a 'wheel' could be improved. Firstly, no production of them or abuse/burning = a better, cleaner future which you all seem to want.. and on top of that, wheels limit you greatly... Much more, but why bother even explaining myself..

I like unrealistic thinkers. Cause it's UNREALISTIC for a massive piece of metal to fly over oceans. But thankfully, the Wright brothers thought otherwise. It's unrealistic for a switch to magically give light to the center of a room, but thankfully.. Thomas Edison didn't think so.

Sick of people rejecting the advancement of technology. Wake up and realise we need to forward ourselves.



Wright brothers didn't make a plane out of the blue. Successful gliding attempts have been made before, and a combustion engine, although weak, had already been in use too. Sure, their first powered flight was revolutionary, but to be fair, it was more of an evolution of previous achievemnts of other people.

Now that VW gimmick is in no sense similar to Wright brothers case. If it were, we would have to have already at least some sort of energy efficient and compact levitation device. So far, all we have are cumbersome rotors, jet engines and limited maglev applications. They are all either too inefficient energywise or too cumbersome or impractical to be used in personal transportation.

Dream on. Next please.

Short Fuse

If you listen to the video, I think you can hear forced air.

But it is cool looking. Wish the article had gone into more detail how it works, what's it's power-source, etc.

Brett Burnes

Interesting how people actually think this is real. Also interesting how VW turns an idea that's been around for over 50yrs into apparently some sudden new brainstorm from China. Wow, wish I thought of that...duh. Way to go VW China marketing dept!


Yes Ed, I noticed that as well, HOWEVER, the force exerted was nowhere close to the thrust needed to hold that pod and two adults aloft.

Also, no ore of any kind is found in smooth even layers, so the magnetic force will vary and fail in some areas as well.

This has to be CGI.


?? You might be able to make this thing into a short range hovercraft that uses jets of air to suspend itself off the ground. It would not go too far since it would need a lot of gasoline to provide the energy to do that.

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